Wines from Burgundy stand out at RN74

Mina Group Inc.’s RN74 restaurants in San Francisco and Seattle turn fine-dining on its head by having their roots in the wines of Burgundy, as opposed to having the wines play a supporting role.

Inspired by San Francisco-based Mina Group’s wine director Rajat Parr’s passion for Burgundian wines and culture, RN74 debuted in April 2009 on the ground floor of the Millennium Tower on Mission Street in San Francisco. It is characterized as an “urban wine bar and restaurant,” and gets its name from a highway running through Burgundy's Cote d'Or.

In 2011, a second location opened in Seattle’s landmark Joshua Green Building, where Seisuke Kamimura recently was named executive chef,
succeeding Michelle Retallack, who left the Mina Group.

As executive chef of the San Francisco location, Jason Berthold was charged with creating a menu of modern takes on regional French cuisine to complement Parr’s list of about 2,500 wines, which are priced from about $30 a bottle to $10,500 a bottle, the latter price for a Georges Roumier “Bonnes-Mares” Grand Cru from 1934.

Menu item prices range from $11–$15 for first courses and $18–$21 for second courses at lunch, and from $13–$22 for first courses, $24–$28 for second courses and $9 each for desserts and cheese at dinner.

European rail stations inspired the RN74 look, which New York-based design and concept house AvroKO created using key décor elements of glass, steel, leather and reclaimed wood, Mina Group officials said.

To generate guest interaction, both RN74 locations feature a “Last Bottle Board” on which the final bottle of popular wines are displayed so that guests with an interest in a particular label and vintage can order it before it is gone.

The original San Francisco location seats 75 in the dining room, 30 in the bar and lounge and another 30 in the atrium/communal table area.

The Mina Group has 18 restaurants and steakhouses in hotels and other multi-use buildings, including Michael Mina and Bourbon Steak in San Francisco.

Parr spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about RN74 and future expansion.

Are there differences between the two RN74 locations?

Both the RN74's are quite similar in design. The cuisine is also similar, but the products are locally procured. The wine lists are a little different. RN74 Seattle has a lot of wines from the Northwest and RN74 SF has more wines from California.

What are the advantages and challenges of operating RN74?

Both the restaurants are inspired by modern French cooking. This is usually an advantage, unless some guests are looking for more of a local fare. There really aren't any challenges, except we have to prepare for a busy day, everyday.

Having an unparalleled wine cellar full of old and rare Burgundies is a huge advantage.

See more of RN74; story continues below

Are RN74 restaurants operated under a management agreement with building owners, or are they conventional restaurants working with leased space?

We have a great partnership with [building owner] Millennium Partners in [San Francisco] and a really fun, individual investor group in Seattle.

Does RN74 have a core menu, or do menu items change daily?

Both restaurants have some core RN74 menu items, but we also want each chef to express their own individuality and the uniqueness of that market. We do the same with the wine lists as well.

Are there plans to open any additional RN74 restaurants?

We are always entertaining opportunities for continued development of RN74. However, we have nothing scheduled to date. We have been very careful with site selection, and we want to make sure that if we do open any more that it is a win-win for the area and for the restaurant.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story has been updated to note that Seisuke Kamimura is the executive chef at the Seatlle location of RN74.

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected] [3].
Follow him on Twitter: @AJ_NRN [4]